Agriculture-related classes are proving popular at Bayfield High School in their first year being offered. BHS Principal Leon Hanhardt told the school board on Feb. 28 that there are seven ag science classes this year with 125 kids enrolled. Hanhardt wants to expand that.
He cited the enrollment bubble coming through the middle school that will hit BHS in the fall. BHS could be short of staff to deal with it. "Looking at funding, we decided the best way to go is CTE (Career Technical Education) because we get some money back" on the cost of another teacher to create more elective classes. CTE class offerings get some state reimbursement if they meet certain criteria, including a teacher with CTE credentials. But they can be hard to find.
Hanhardt is considering a full-time ag teacher. Two teachers handle the current ag classes. Both are certified ag teachers, but their main subjects are science and English. One of the goals is to free them up for those core classes.
"One of our ag requirements (for the position) will be the science endorsement," Hanhardt said. He wants some marketing, management, and business classes to be part of the ag offerings, since BHS doesn't have any business classes now. "I think we can fit those in the ag program as we get a teacher that's focused on this program," he said.
Superintendent Troy Zabel liked the idea of offering business credits.
Current classes include introduction to agriculture, ag science exploration as a second year class, plant science/horticulture, animal science, natural resource/wildlife management, and ecology/ geology. It's not a traditional ag program and has no shop component, Hanhardt said. He told the Times that a chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) is an essential component. He said he was very active in FFA both as a student and an ag teacher. He taught ag for 13 years.
BHS counselor Amy Maglinas said a lot of their ag students are interested in natural resource management.
"From surveys, it's clear kids want this," Zabel said. "If we have that many kids, we need to provide the program."
Counselor Peggy Whiteman said she has registered seven new students at BHS since Christmas break. "Almost all ask about ag," she said.
Hanhardt wanted to advertise the position the next day before other districts advertise similar positions, because of the difficulty getting CTE teachers. There was no board objection to that. Hanhardt still needs the board to approve a formal job description.
Their next meeting is March 21.